Arctic expedition not all 'plain sailing'

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The Independent Online

Two Royal Marines who successfully navigated the Arctic's notorious North West passage in a 17ft open boat said today that it was not all "plain sailing".

Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Oliver, 42, and Major Tony Lancashire, 36, took 42 days to sail and row the Arctic Mariner 1,400 miles through Canada's Northern provinces.

Lt Col Oliver, who has served in Iraq and Northern Ireland and will soon be deployed to Afghanistan, said: "This has not been all plain sailing.

"We have had 90% more ice than the seasonal norm and as a consequence have had to drag the boat across ice as well as row and sail it."

The pair set off from Inuvik, on the Beaufort Sea, on July 24.

They used the latest Canadian ice charts to weave their way through the hostile Arctic seas and landscape, on their way braving freezing storms, charging bears and curious whales.

The pair arrived safely in Gjoa Haven, on King William Island, at the weekend.

Lt Col Oliver said it was "a great adventure".

"The weather and local wildlife has provided us with a number of heart stopping moments which rank among the most memorable of the trip, all of which was topped off by the hospitality of the people we met."

The duo's expedition raised more than £10,000 for the charity Toe in the Water.

The charity helps injured servicemen and women to take part in competitive sailing and acts as an extension of the work of Headley Court rehabilitation centre, near Epsom.

Major Lancashire has served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland.